How to Scan and Import Sheet Music to Finale PrintMusic?

Brightness controls can lessen the impact of yellowed paper.
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Converting printed music to a live, editable score starts either with a scan that you convert through optical character recognition or with the sometimes-laborious process of entering notes in a fresh sheet music document. Finale PrintMusic includes built-in access to SmartScore Lite, an introductory version of the company's OCR program for digitizing musical notation. Be sure to verify the copyright status of music before you scan it, restricting your use to your own works and those you have the right to use, either because they exist in the public domain or because you received authorization from the composer or rights holder.

Power up your scanner and wait for it to warm up. If it includes a transparency adapter, verify that it will default to reflective scanning from below the original document rather than the transmissive light source built in to the scanner lid.

Set your document on the scanning bed, aligning it squarely with the device's guide strips. Use a cleanly printed original with 16 or fewer staves.

Open the PrintMusic "File" menu, choose the "Import" submenu and select "SmartScore Lite Scan." If the SmartScore Lite dialog box opens without a preview, click on the "Preview" button to prescan your document.

Configure your scanner in the SmartScore Lite dialog box. Use the Automatic settings to let SmartScore Lite determine resolution and cropping based on its built-in algorithms. To override these settings, adjust the Resolution slider to the desired pixels-per-inch value. Set the Brightness slider to compensate for tinted paper, faded originals or background tone. Click on the "Deskew" button to adjust the alignment of staves or paper if either appears crooked in the preview image. If you see an inverted preview -- white staves on a black background -- click on the "Invert" button to correct the way the document will scan.

Click on the "Final Scan" button to acquire a single page. If your score spans more than one sheet, click on the "Next Page" button when the dialog box asks if your document includes additional pages. If it covers only one page, or you've reached the last scan in the series, click on the "Finish" button instead.

Click on the "Begin Recognition" button to open the Instrument Name Assignments dialog box. Indicate transpositions of parts and assign an instrument for each staff, along with an abbreviation for its name and a General MIDI instrument to use in PrintMusic's score playback. Click on the "OK" button to complete the file translation.

Save your PrintMusic document before you edit it. Proofread the results, correcting key signatures, slurs and note inaccuracies.

  • Don't scan sheet music in black and white mode, also referred to as bilevel. These scans lack the clarity that the SmartScore Lite OCR process requires for best results.
  • Hand-operated scanners don't produce results that translate well through OCR.
  • Information in this article applies to Finale MakeMusic 2014 and SmartScore Lite 6. It may differ slightly or significantly with other versions or products.
  • Avoid damaged originals and photocopied scores. They can confuse or interfere with PrintMusic's optical character recognition and produce unsatisfactory results.
  • If you can't scan through SmartScore Lite's built-in interface, use the "Select Scanner" control in the SmartScore Lite dialog box to identify your hardware so you can scan and save your sheet music as single-page grayscale TIFF documents at a resolution of 300 ppi or greater. You can add these scans to the document recognition list in SmartScore Lite.
  • SmartScore Lite doesn't support text or song lyrics, articulation marks, hairpins, or double or repeat barlines. It can't recognize note values shorter than a 32nd note, or more than three clefs, three types of accidentals or one augmentation dot. For short pieces of music with simple notation, you may prefer to enter note values manually.
  • Use the Staff Attributes dialog box to set the behavior and appearance of independent elements, including key and time signatures and notation options.

Elizabeth Mott has been a writer since 1983. Mott has extensive experience writing advertising copy for everything from kitchen appliances and financial services to education and tourism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from Indiana State University.